Air Canada operates final cabin-loaded cargo flight, returning aircraft to passenger service

17 May 2022

Cargo loaded in the cabin of an Air Canada passenger aircraft that was temporarily converted for cargo use.

Air Canada has operated its final cabin-loaded cargo-only flight using its fleet of temporarily converted passenger aircraft. Flight AC7272, operated with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, touched down in Toronto from Bogota on May 14 for what was the last cabin-loaded flight operated with a mix of Boeing 777s and A330s. The A330-300 aircraft will be reconverted back to passenger service to meet the return of global travel demand.

This final flight comes more than two years after Air Canada became the first passenger airline globally to go to market removing seats to double cargo capacity by utilizing the cabin to load additional cargo. That first flight, operated with a Boeing 777 that would normally carry more than 400 passengers, was on April 18, 2020, and its cabin was filled with critical PPE, including face masks, gloves, and gowns for healthcare workers.

In all, Air Canada would operate up to 11 temporarily reconfigured aircraft at the height of the pandemic.

The bold move to quickly reconfigure three Air Canada passenger aircraft initially was in response to the drastic drop in global passenger travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent dramatic reduction of the airline’s passenger schedule. While these curtailments were necessary, they also heavily impacted the urgent transport of goods that would normally be transported in the bellies of passenger aircraft.

With high demand for transporting critical medical and other vital supplies rapidly to Canada and then across the country in the initial phases of combatting the COVID-19 crisis, along with the ongoing requirement for reliable cargo space to ensure that cargo customers would have consistent access to international routes, Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo rapidly converted a mix of Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft that would otherwise be parked. Eleven aircraft were converted into temporary freighters by removing the passenger seats to enable transport of lightweight cargo in the cabins.

With passenger travel demand recovering and with cargo demand remaining high, Air Canada Cargo will now utilize a fleet of converted Boeing 767-300 freighters, two of which are now in service, with six more to come by the end of 2023. Additionally, Air Canada Cargo continues to utilize belly space on Air Canada’s globally scheduled passenger flights.

“Developing and sustaining this solution was an incredible group effort from many departments within Air Canada,” said Dotane Harel, Director, Regulatory and Operations Process Engineering. “These aircraft have considerably increased Air Canada’s cargo capacity in time of need. It is with mixed emotions that we see this chapter fold, and we’re looking forward to working with our new Boeing 767-300 freighters.”

New Year Prospects: Air Canada’s Fleet In 2022

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Chris Loh | January 1, 2022

Continuing its slow recovery from the worst of the global health crisis, major Canadian airline Air Canada the growth of its fleet in 2021. Notably, this consisted of the addition of a number of Airbus A220-300s as well as several Boeing 737 MAX 8s. Let’s take a glance at where Air Canada’s fleet stands at the start of 2022.

It appears that Air Canada took delivery of seven Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft during the 2nd half of 2021. Photo: Air Canada

Air Canada’s fleet composition at a glance

According to data from, Air Canada has the following aircraft in its fleet. The quantities are noted alongside the type, with the change from last year’s report (published June 2021) in parentheses.

Aircraft from Airbus*:
  • A220-300: 27 (+5)
  • A320-200: 17 (-1)
  • A321-200: 15 (no change)
  • A330-300: 16 (no change)

*We should note that the airline ordered the A220 when it was still known as the Bombardier CSeries.

Aircraft from Boeing:
  • 737 MAX 8: 31 (+7)
  • 767-300BCF*: 3 (+3)
  • 777-200LR: 6 (no change)
  • 777-300ER: 18 (-1)
  • 787-8: 8 (no change)
  • 787-9: 29 (no change)

*One Air Canada 767-300 has completed its conversion from passenger to freighter. The remaining two are in the process of being converted.

It appears that one Boeing 777-300ER left the fleet. Photo: Air Canada

Growing the short and medium-haul fleet

As you can see from the changes since our last Air Canada fleet report, the carrier has gained five Airbus A220-300s and seven Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

As noted previously, there was a little bit of a back-and-forth when the carrier announced it would be canceling some of its orders in November of 2020, which would have seen orders for 12 A220s and 10 737 MAX 8s axed. However, one condition of the Canadian government’s rescue package was that it would proceed with its planned orders for both aircraft types. As a result, the airline has nine 737 MAX 8s and 18 A220-300s still on the way.

The airline continues to grow its A220 and 737 numbers. Photo: Air Canada

Going big on cargo operations

One surprising standout number from our list was the “addition” of three Boeing 767-300s from last year. This change is, again, a bit of a back and forth. During the worst of the crisis, Air Canada had decided to retire its 767s.

However, cargo demand has been soaring amid increased eCommerce activity, decreased transportation capacity, and global supply chain snarls. These factors led the airline to convert its passenger 767s into full freighters, complete with a large door to handle containers on the main deck. Work was, and continues to be, done at IAI facilities in Tel Aviv.

It’s not just 767s and the bellies of passenger aircraft being used for cargo operations. At the time of this article’s publication, the carrier has four of its 16 A330-300s and seven of its 18 Boeing 777-300ERs operating as “preighters” (passenger freighters). These are passenger aircraft which have had their seats removed in order to accommodate freight. Making use of the fleet’s younger jets for reasons unknown, the airline was able to provide additional cargo capacity to Canada’s west coast, which had its main road and rail supply lines cut off from the rest of the country in November, due to extreme and extensive flooding.

Cargojet order launches Mammoth 777-200LR freighter programme

From Flight Global – link to source story

By David Kaminski-Morrow | 17 November 2021

Canadian carrier Cargojet Airways has emerged as the launch customer for the Boeing 777-200LR freighter conversion initiated by US-based Mammoth Freighters.

Cargojet is to take a pair of the converted twinjets, and will hold options on another pair – as well as options for two conversions of the larger 777-300ER.

The first aircraft to be delivered to Cargojet will be a modified 777-200LR with serial number 29742, originally delivered to Delta Air Lines in 2009.

Mammoth says the twinjet, fitted with General Electric GE90 engines, will enter the conversion process in mid-2022 and be delivered in the second half of 2023.

The company unveiled its conversion programme for the two 777 models in September, noting it had acquired access to a feedstock of Delta 777-200LRs.

Mammoth 777-200LR freighter-c-Mammoth Freighters
Source: Mammoth Freighters

Mammoth has access to ex-Delta 777-200LR feedstock for its initial freighters

Mammoth’s freighter conversions will carry the -200LRMF and -300ERMF designations.

Cargojet’s agreement will enable Mammoth to “demonstrate the significance” of its product, says Mammoth co-chief Bill Tarpley.

“This is the next generation of converted freighters that have improved on-wing performance while using less fuel and emitting less carbon than the current ageing widebody fleet.”

Cargojet, which operates from Hamilton airport near Toronto, has a fleet of over 30 freighters, mainly based on Boeing 767-200, -300 and 757-200 platforms.

It had stated earlier this year that it intended to acquire 777 freighters but, at the time, had not signalled whether they would be new-build or converted aircraft.

Cargojet said it would use the 777s on long-haul Asian routes, integrating them with the airline’s domestic network.

Air Canada Begins Work to Enhance Cold Chain Handling Capabilities at its Toronto Pearson Cargo Facility 

  • Project will increase and diversify freight handling capabilities as part of Air Canada Cargo expansion strategy

MONTREAL, Oct. 1, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced the start of a $16-million project to expand and enhance Air Canada Cargo’s cold chain handling capabilities for shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables at its Toronto Pearson International Airport cargo facility. The project is part of Air Canada’s strategy to further develop its cargo division, which also includes the acquisition of freighter aircraft, the launch of dedicated freighter routes and an expansion into e-commerce.   

“This is another important step for Air Canada Cargo as we continue to grow our business and invest in our facilities to better serve our customers. Our new temperature-controlled facility, which will be the only one of its kind for a Canadian airline, represents a significant addition to Air Canada’s on-site capabilities at Toronto Pearson and to Canadian cold chain logistics. It will also give Air Canada Cargo a strategic advantage at our main hub, which handles more than 60 per cent of all our traffic, and will support the launch of routes to be served by our new freighter aircraft,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo, at Air Canada.

Once completed, the upgraded facility will feature over 30,000 square feet of temperature-controlled areas and an expanded cooler to fully meet the requirements of cold chain shipments such as pharmaceuticals, fresh food and other perishables.

The extended cooler will accommodate more unit load devices (ULD) and loose shipments with COL (+2°C to +8°C) and CRT (+15°C to +25°C) temperature requirements, provide additional racking, and an upgraded dedicated area for active temperature control units. These enhancements are the first step in a multi-year investment plan for the facility and are part of several planned infrastructure investment projects for Air Canada Cargo.

The project also includes the installation of energy efficient equipment including temperature controllers that will constantly monitor the conditions inside the facility and only regulate the temperature as needed, resulting in reduced energy consumption. As well, rapid roll-up doors will be installed to minimize the energy loss when the cooler is accessed to store or retrieve goods. LED lights will be installed throughout the facility, further reducing energy consumption.

Air Canada is CEIV Pharma certified by IATA, which signifies that the airline meets the highest standards of safety, security, compliance and efficiency in the transport of pharmaceuticals. The enhancements being undertaken in Toronto were guided, in part, by the specifications related to this certification.

Dedicated Freighters

Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 11,000 all-cargo flights using its wide-body passenger aircraft as well as certain temporarily modified Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft, which have additional available cargo space due to the removal of seats from the passenger cabin.

As part of its strategic growth plans, Air Canada Cargo undertook the conversion of eight Boeing 767-300ER aircraft into dedicated freighters. The first of the newly reconfigured aircraft will enter into service for Air Canada Cargo in Q4 of this year and will initially operate on key routes to provide additional capacity during the busy peak season.

Starting in early 2022, the first freighter will fly primarily out of Toronto and operate to Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, with additional cities like Madrid and Frankfurt, Halifax and St. John’s connecting to the freighter network when the second aircraft is delivered in 2022. The addition of freighter aircraft to Air Canada’s fleet will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on key air cargo routes, which will facilitate the movement of goods globally. The freighters will allow Air Canada Cargo to increase its presence in the air freight market and its capabilities to transport goods such as automotive and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, pharmaceuticals, perishables, as well as handling the growing demand for fast, reliable shipment of e-commerce goods.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Air Canada Cargo marks milestone with 10,000th cargo-only flight since onset of the pandemic

5 July 2021

When worldwide travel was dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, it had severe consequences on the movement of goods around the world by air as passenger flights, which carried up to 59% of air cargo globally, disappeared almost overnight.

The Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo teams understood that transporting critical medical and other vital supplies was imperative to combating the COVID-19 crisis, in Canada and globally. As passenger flights were suspended, Air Canada Cargo immediately began operating cargo-only flights in the belly of unscheduled passenger aircraft to meet the urgent demand for cargo transport. Simultaneously, work was being done to reconfigure the passenger cabins of some aircraft and implement a cargo-only flight schedule to keep the economy and the supply chain moving.

July 5, 2021, marks the 10,000th cargo-only flight for Air Canada Cargo, AC7251 from Toronto to Buenos Aires. Those 10,000 flights, including regularly scheduled operations and special on-demand flight, have carried everything from PPE for our healthcare heroes, critical vaccines, food, mail and even pets back home to their loved ones in Australia.

“It is remarkable that Air Canada is marking its 10,000th cargo-only flights since March 2020, a major accomplishment under the difficult circumstances. The pandemic changed our business at unprecedented speed, and the collaboration and creativity across branches and teams has been a defining moment for the Cargo group, and all of Air Canada,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada. “The cargo-only flights, which include both scheduled and on-demand flights, have helped provide stability in the global supply chain at a time when distributing essential and vital supplies was critical.”

Air Canada Cargo has been able to achieve this milestone thanks to the hard work of hundreds of dedicated employees across all branches of the company, its supply chain partners and the support of its customers, who came together to find solutions.

“10,000 cargo-only flights is just the beginning and our future is bright. Montreal cargo really worked hard this past year and we are all very proud of that,” said Mamun Ansari, Cargo Service Manager in Montreal.

“Our 10,000th cargo-only flight means we have been resilient during these challenging times. We have been able to adapt, be part of the necessary supply chain moving things such as vaccines,” said Tanith Pinto, Cargo Service Manager in Toronto.

“It is a moment to be proud of and specifically at Air Canada Cargo to see how we have evolved during the course of the pandemic,” said Thomas Getzie, Cargo Service Manager in Vancouver.

“It is just great for the Frankfurt team to know that we have been an important part of the success story. I believe the entire cargo team can really be very proud,” said Leandro De Souza, Area Sales Manager – Cargo – Germany.

“Launching these cargo-only flights during a global pandemic remains, for all of us who were involved, a career highlight. I know I speak for all my colleagues on the Asia-Pacific team when I are proud to represent Air Canada,” said Brayden Zhou, Cargo Manager.

Air Canada set up its network of cargo-only flights using Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft on international routes.

Air Canada was also the first airline in the world to go to market with reconfigured widebody passenger aircraft, having removed the seats in the cabin to allow for light freight. Air Canada has converted a total of 11 aircraft, a mix of Boeing 777s and A330-300s.

The evolution at Air Canada Cargo will continue this fall with the arrival of the first of several dedicated freighter aircraft, giving its global customers reliable and predictable capacity.

“As passenger flights pick up, we look forward to continuing to serve our cargo customers and facilitating the movement of goods by air through belly capacity and continued cargo-only flying as we prepare for the arrival of our first Boeing 767-300ER freighters in the fall,” Jason Berry concluded.

Air Canada’s Fleet In 2021

From Simple Flying – link to source story

As Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada has a diverse fleet based across its four hub airports. The network airline has a mix of both widebody and narrowbody aircraft coming from both Airbus and Boeing. The carrier has gone through some changes in the past few years, with more significant upheaval taking place during the global health crisis. Let’s take a look at Air Canada’s fleet as it stands in 2021.

The Boeing 787 is Air Canada’s flagship aircraft. Photo: Air Canada

Air Canada’s fleet composition

According to data from, Air Canada has the following aircraft in its fleet. The quantities are noted in parentheses.

Aircraft from Airbus*:
  • A220-300 (22)
  • A320 (18)
  • A321 (15)
  • A330-300 (16)

*We should note that the airline ordered the A220 when it was still known as the Bombardier CSeries.

Aircraft from Boeing:
  • 737 MAX 8 (24)
  • 777-200LR (6)
  • 777-300ER (19)
  • 787-8 (8)
  • 787-9 (29)
The average age of Air Canada’s A330-300s is 16 years. Photo: Air Canada

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Outside of regular passenger service

There are aircraft within the Air Canada fleet that are outside of the airline’s passenger operations.

Notably, we have the airline’s private/charter subbrand, Air Canada Jetz. This sub-group consists of four Airbus A319s. This fleet traditionally consisted of three A319s, but it appears a fourth was added in December 2020.

Used to transport touring musicians, sports teams, or private groups, these aircraft have an all-business configuration of 58 seats. With the exception of a short pandemic run, these aircraft tend to stay out of Air Canada’s regular passenger operations.

The Jetz jets flew an all-business-class service during the Winter of 2020 but are typically reserved for special charter operations. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons 

As we will mention further in this article, Air Canada retired its 767s at the start of the health crisis. However, some of these are slated for a full conversion to freighters. The airline says that two freighters are expected to be in service in time for this year’s fourth-quarter peak airfreight season.

With seven 767s on the list for conversion, it looks like the remaining five will be converted next year, in 2022. This was confirmed by the carrier’s current Chief Financial Officer and future Chief Executive during the earnings call in which Simple Flying attended:

“We’d love to have all seven up and operating by the end of next year. These are typically little bit of a longer process and slots are not really available, but we are certainly working on having all seven up and running by Q4 of next year.” – Michael Rousseau, Chief Executive Officer, Air Canada

Coming and going

On the outgoing side of things, it was in May 2020 that Air Canada announced the early retirement of 79 aircraft. 

Retirements included five 767-300ERs, 16 A319s, and 14 E190s in the mainline fleet. Another 25 767-300ERs and 22 A319s that made up Air Canada Rouge were also retired.

Air Canada took delivery of its first A220 back in January 2020. Photo: Air Canada

Looking at future aircraft, Air Canada has a decent number of Boeing 737 MAX 8s and Airbus A220-300s yet to be delivered. There was a little bit of a back-and-forth when the carrier announced it would be canceling some of its orders last November. The plan would have seen the airline cancel orders for 12 A220s and 10 737 MAX 8s.

However, one condition of the carrier’s government rescue package was that it would proceed with its planned orders for both aircraft types. As it stands, 16 737 MAX 8s and 23 A220-300s are still on the way.

As you can see from the list of aircraft, Air Canada has a fairly diverse fleet- which is quite typical of a large network carrier that operates both short-haul and intercontinental service.

Air Canada Cargo Announces Launch Routes For its Newly Converted Freighter Aircraft Arriving This Fall

MONTREAL, June 14, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo today announced the initial list of planned routes for the Boeing 767-300ER freighters scheduled to enter service this fall. Air Canada is in the process of fully converting several of its Boeing 767 aircraft into dedicated freighters in order to fully participate in global cargo commercial opportunities.

When the first converted 767 freighters enters service in October, they will fly primarily out of Toronto Pearson International Airport, and will operate on routes linking Toronto to Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, the first time Air Canada Cargo will serve this destination. Additional destinations to be served in early 2022, include Halifax, St. John’s, Madrid and Frankfurt as more freighters enter service.

“These freighters will provide long-term stability and growth for our cargo customers, in particular the freight forwarding community who require reliable air freight capacity year-round. They will allow us to continue building on the success of our cargo-only flights and are an important part of our future growth. I am excited to have these aircraft enter service, a milestone for Air Canada Cargo that also opens up a world of opportunities for us and our customers,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada.

Air Canada has begun the process of converting certain of its Boeing 767s that have been retired from its passenger fleet into fully dedicated freighters. As part of that process, all seats are removed from the aircraft, a large door is cut into the fuselage to allow for loading of palletized cargo, and the floor is reinforced to carry additional weight. Air Canada Cargo plans to have two freighters in service by the end of 2021, with more to join the fleet in 2022.

The addition of dedicated freighter aircraft to Air Canada’s fleet will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on key air cargo routes, which will facilitate the movement of goods globally. With these freighters, Air Canada Cargo will enhance its capabilities to transport goods such as automotive and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, pharmaceuticals, perishables, as well as handling the growing demand for fast, reliable shipment of e-commerce goods.

In the fall of 2020, Air Canada successfully concluded a collective agreement amendment with its pilots represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association for contractual changes to enable Air Canada to competitively operate dedicated cargo aircraft in the cargo marketplace.

Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 9,000 all-cargo flights using its wide-body passenger aircraft as well as certain temporarily modified Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft, which have additional available cargo space due to the removal of seats from the passenger cabin.

Inaccurate Airborne Status Transmitted by Transponders and its Effect on Runway Monitoring and Conflict Alert Systems – Civil Aviation Safety Alert

Transport Canada


The purpose of this Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) is to raise awareness to aircraft owners, operators and Air Navigation Services Providers (ANSP) on an issue related to operation of aircraft equipped with the Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system transponders.


The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) recently advised Transport Canada of an occurrence at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport (CYYZ) where immediately following a rejected takeoff, an Embraer 190 (E190) equipped with a Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system transponder incorrectly transmitted that the aircraft was in airborne status but remained on the runway.

A second aircraft, a Boeing 777-300 (B777) readying for take-off had been issued a take-off clearance while the E190 remained on the runway. Although the E190 flight crew made a radio call to the tower that they were aborting the takeoff, at the same time the B777 read back its take-off clearance on the same control tower frequency and commenced its take-off roll. The simultaneous radio transmissions went undetected and neither air traffic control nor the B777 flight crew heard the abort radio call of the E190.

Immediately after beginning its take-off roll the B777 flight crew observed that the E190 was still on the runway and initiated a rejected takeoff. The B777 came to within 3800 feet from the E190.

In the initial assessment in its investigation (TSB investigation A20O0029) the TSB has found that the Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system in the E190 uses software logic that determines the aircraft to be airborne when the aircraft’s indicated airspeed exceeds 50 knots. The result being that the aircraft transponder may transmit that the aircraft is airborne when the aircraft may still be on the ground.

Additionally, the runway incursion monitoring and conflict alert system (RIMCAS) used by the air navigation service provider (ANSP) at CYYZ was configured to use data from the aircraft’s transponder transmission as the primary indication that an aircraft had become airborne. Therefore when the E190 exceeded 50 knots on its departure roll, the RIMCAS identified the aircraft as airborne even though it was not. As a result of this system logic, the RIMCAS did not detect a conflict when the B777 began its take-off roll, and did not issue an alert until well after both aircraft had initiated their respective rejected-takeoff procedures and decelerated.

In December 2020, NAV CANADA published an Urgent ATC Information Bulletin for all Toronto Tower personnel. The bulletin cautioned controllers that RIMCAS Stage 1 and Stage 2 alerts may not be generated when Embraer E-jets and some aircraft manufactured by Dassault, Gulfstream, Learjet, and Textron Aviation (formerly Cessna) are departing. The bulletin also advised that Stage 1 and Stage 2 alerts may not be produced for aircraft or vehicles approaching the active runway when one of these aircraft types is departing, and controllers were reminded to monitor these situations closely. NAV CANADA is investigating options for RIMCAS software mitigations.

Transport Canada is in the process of communicating with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to address the current software logic to identify aircraft airborne status. Additionally, Transport Canada is in the process of communicating with applicable ANSP who have similar RIMCAS that could yield a comparable outcome with aircraft with similarly configured transponders.

Recommended action

  1. Air operators currently operating aircraft equipped with Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics system should provide the information found in this CASA to staff and/or flight crew as a means of awareness.

Parking brake not applied before Air Canada 777-300ER towbar accident

From Flight Global – link to source story

By David Kaminski-Morrow | 14 April 2021

French investigators have found that an Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER’s parking-brake had not been applied before one of the individuals in a pushback tractor was injured as he worked to disconnect the towbar.

The individual was a driver instructor and was training a tractor driver at the time of the event, which occurred at Paris Charles de Gaulle on 24 July 2019.

As the aircraft was pushed back from stand A38, the driver made a turn that was too wide and, during the manoeuvring, the tractor reached the maximum turn limit – resulting in a ruptured shear pin.

The instructor told French investigation authority BEA that he signalled to another member of the ground crew, a headset operator, regarding the situation.

“Convinced that the headset operator had understood, [the instructor] thought [the operator] had therefore informed the crew and asked them to apply the aircraft’s parking-brake,” says BEA.

As the instructor went to inspect and disconnect the towbar, he did not check an indicator light which would have shown the parking-brake status.

While he worked on the disconnection the aircraft began to move forwards, exerting a force on the towbar. One of the towbar wheels rolled over the instructor’s foot, trapping him, and the stressed bar suddenly unhooked from the tractor and struck the instructor’s leg.

Under the procedures of AGS, the tractor operating company, a towbar pin shear must prompt the ground personnel to ask the aircraft crew to apply the parking-brake and, if required, block the nose-gear. BEA says nose-gear blocks are not mandatory and are only used when a carrier’s procedures require them – Air Canada did not.

777-300ER-c-Air Canada

Source: Air Canada

Investigators heard the 777-300ER nose-gear had a lamp signalling parking-brake activation

The headset operator, who worked for Air France Industries, told the inquiry he did not see the tractor driver or instructor make a hand signal to indicate the stop and request the parking-brake.

BEA says it could not determine the exact accident sequence, including the time the pin ruptured and whether signals were exchanged between the tractor team and the headset operator.

But it states that the instructor alighted from the tractor and started to remove the towbar without the parking-brake having been applied and with no blocks in position.

It says a misunderstanding may have occurred between the tractor team and headset operator, adding: “As this [headset operator] was unaware of any anomaly, the immediate application of [standard] procedures, including the request to apply the aircraft parking-brake, may have been compromised.”